GET CHRISTIE LOVE!: "A High Fashion Heist" (Universal/ABC-TV: Original Air Date 3/12/75) Starring Teresa Graves as Detective Christie Love, Jack Kelly as Captain Arthur Ryan, Michael Pataki as Gallagher, Dennis Rucker as Belmont. Guest Stars: Jaclyn Smith as Sari Lancaster, Woodrow Parfrey as Fallon, Marjorie Wallace as Jennifer Gillian, Don Galloway as Marty Hazard, Terry Meeuwsan as Susan, Mel Gallagher as Jimmie Bertleson, Robert Miller Driscoll as Lucius Crocker, Scott Peters as Valencia, Hanna Hertelendy as Andrea. Written by Michael A. Hoey and B. Gerald Bell. Directed by David Friedkin.
Introduction to the GET CHRISTIE LOVE! episode guide and review of the TV movie pilot at this link.
An Indian Prince's diamond collection is valued at seven figures plus and goes to auction in Losa Angeles. Attempting to keep the gems secure for it, Christie goes undercover on the runway as one of eight high fashion models displaying the priceless antiques for potential bidders. It's all for naught: immediately after the showcase, a masked robber succeeds in snatching the collection while the lovely ladies are removing the jewels. He has to be a professional, knowing exactly where to strike and who to disarm, taking hostages while making his getaway. Detective Love gives high speed chase to no avail.
Captain Ryan recognizes the M.O. as that of slippery pro Marty Hazard. After returning the merchandise through a broker (minus a commission and a "finder's fee"), Hazard consistently avoids capture while making a solid profit. After all, there's never enough evidence and the resolution always leaves everyone satisfied. Everyone except Detective Love, who still sees a crime going unpunished. Ryan gives Christie the diamond-hot assignment and she sets out to find loose ends before they're tied up yet again. Suspicion soon falls on inside help, which leads a reluctant Christie toward her old school friend Sari, another of the aforementioned models who seems to be living really well.
The Glen Larson/Ronald Satlof episodes of GET CHRISTIE LOVE! are filled with casting hooks, ranging from Bobby Riggs and Rosemary Casals playing themselves in The Big Rematch to the LAUGH-IN reunion in Murder on High C. To the modern eye, a pre-CHARLIE'S ANGELS Jaclyn Smith is the biggest name in A High Fashion Heist. But while Smith has the largest supporting role, she wasn't the star attraction at the time: Miss World and Miss America were sharing the runway.
|Marjorie Wallace, Miss World 1973|
Miss World 1973 Marjorie Wallace had the second (and penultimate) acting role of her brief career, with the same role she had in BARETTA a month earlier: the crook's girlfriend. Wallace was the first Miss World crowned from the U.S., and one of the most controversial: romantically linked with George Best, Tom Jones and (then-recently deceased) Peter Revson, Wallace was stripped of her title after only 104 days, becoming the first of the pageant's winners to lose her title. She's improved from her first role here, but would remain better known for her offstage notoriety. 1975 brought her first and last TV roles.
|Terry Meeuwsen, Miss America 1973|
1973 Miss America Terry Meeuwsen ended up having far more staying power in front of the camera than anyone else in the cast. She's been co-hosting THE 700 CLUB since 1993. However, this was the lone acting appearance of her career, and she has a mere two lines--clearly her niche was hosting religious programming. (Incidentally Wallace also hosted a long-running syndicated staple, albeit briefly: she was the original 1981 co-host of ENTERTAINMENT TONIGHT, pre-Mary Hart.)
Back at the station, Pataki's Gallagher continues to be used as comic relief, and again commits a major boo-boo when he accepts a meal from elegant suspect Crocker. This time he has a tad of redemption when his basement research (itself a punishment from the Captain) finally connects Christie with her perpetrator. The exasperation that Gallagher continually gives Jack Kelly's Captain Ryan provides a spark of life largely missing from the earlier Charles Cioffi/Andy Romano episodes, though you still wonder almost every segment how the Hell Gallagher keeps his job. Dennis Rucker's Belmont survived the midseason changes, and Scott Peters wrapped up his acting career with the recurring role of Detective Valencia.
I couldn't find any information on co-writer B. Gerald Bell, but Michael A. Hoey wrote only a handful of teleplays. Most of his TV credits were behind the camera (FALCON CREST), but Hoey was best known for THE NAVY VS. THE NIGHT MONSTERS. The duo provides veteran director Friedkin with a decent script, and Friedkin gets around content restrictions by having a fairly spectacular (by prime time standards anyway) novelty death at an electrical plant. The scene is marred by what would seem to be a severe overreaction on the part of the accomplice, but the flaw isn't too distracting all in all.
A High Fashion Heist goes down easy, with Jaclyn Smith's early appearance holding the most interest for audiences today. One can see why she'd be a major TV star just a year later. It's fun to wonder if Graves might have gotten a call from Aaron Spelling if she'd stayed in show biz--he practically needed a new ANGEL every other season--but since the GET CHRISTIE LOVE! star was only two episodes away from ending her own television career, A High Fashion Heist is as close as we got to that scenario.
ONE LUMP, OR MORE?
Just one "Sugar" for the mastermind himself.
THE BOTTOM LINE:
Graves, Smith, Meeuwsen and Wallace. Casting gimmicks take the vavavoom factor off the charts, and the episode itself is solidly directed and decently written. A High Fashion Heist focuses on the heist more than the fashion, but remains entertaining while doing either. (*** out of four)